Tuesday, April 03, 2007Angelo Casimiro is a novice at the Marians' seminary in Washington, D.C., and is doing volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity once a week.
By Angelo Casimiro
Before entering into the holy season of Lent, I was told that I would be doing volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity once a week. My thoughts turned immediately to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity.
A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a video documentary entitled Mother Teresa: The Legacy. After viewing the program, I was in tears. I felt like I had been visited by the saintly woman herself. Because of my devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, I was happy to learn that Blessed Mother Teresa had taken her religious name from the Little Flower. She not only took her name, but also faithfully practiced Thérèse's "Little Way of Confidence and Love" and put it into action.
Lent began, and I started going to the Missionaries of Charity every Tuesday morning. The sisters have a house in Washington, D.C., called Gift of Peace where they serve those who are dying from terminal illnesses. My assignment was to sweep and mop the floors in the dormitories and hallways. At lunch, I helped to serve the food, wash the dishes, and clean up in the kitchen.
The work hasn't been any different from the work I have been doing as a novice at the Marian Scholasticate or seminary. Blessed Mother Teresa said that "it is not how much we do or how big the things are but how much love we put in the doing." Consequently, I've adopted the motto of doing "small things with great love."
Sharing in the work of the Missionaries of Charity during Lent has opened up the whole mystery of suffering to me. I empathized with the residents at Gift of Peace, and I reflected on what it would be like if I were dying from a terminal illness. In times of suffering, every human person has that need to be loved and comforted by another person, especially God. God is love, and He reveals His love for us and gives us consolation through other people. Therefore, I was encouraged to see some posters on the wall, which listed all of the residents who have died in the loving arms of Jesus and Mary through the Sisters.
Blessed Mother Teresa said that suffering itself has no value, but the greatest gift we can enjoy is the possibility to share in the Passion of Christ. In each chapel of the Missionaries of Charity is a large crucifix with the words "I thirst" right next to it. Blessed Mother Teresa's mission was to quench the thirst of Jesus for souls in the poorest of the poor, which is accomplished through love in action — "the smile of the eyes, the smile of the face, the way you touch people, and the way you give to people."
When I started at the Missionaries of Charity, I was told to be prepared to see Jesus when I'd least expect it. All of the sisters radiate such joy and love that it is not hard to see Christ within them. However, what caught me off guard was seeing the presence of Jesus in one of the residents.
As I was passing one of the dormitories, I saw a man who was sick and lying in bed. He was suffering, but he had a peaceful look about him. For a brief second, I saw Jesus, not physically, but with the eyes of faith. I remembered a scene from the film The Passion of the Christ where our Lord embraced His cross, and He had the same peaceful look.
Blessed Mother Teresa said, "Once you realize that presence, then you know whom you are touching, whom you are loving, whom you are serving. It is Jesus." We can see Jesus Christ in each other, if we only take the time to look.
On another occasion, I saw Jesus in one of the volunteers as he was giving care to a resident. It reminded me of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and how our Lord is there spiritually to take care of our wounds and nurse us back to health. This happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and it serves to remind us of the message of Divine Mercy.
My volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity has forced me to step out of my comfort zone, and I am thankful to God for using me as an instrument for His purposes. I am reminded of how Blessed Mother Teresa described herself as just a little pencil in God's hand. Then she added, "I'm convinced that when I'm gone, if God finds a person more ignorant and useless than I, He will do greater things through that person because it's His doing."
In that spirit, I pray that God will use me however He desires to serve Him as a Marian. May He also give me the eyes of faith to recognize the presence of Jesus in the people that I serve.
Angelo Casimiro is a novice at the Marians' seminary in Washington, D.C. He hopes to make his first vows as a Marian after completing his year as a novice.
Copyright © 2007 Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception